Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Desert Trailblazer


Trails do not just appear by magic, they have to be made. Some trails are made by animals traveling from one watering hole to another. Others were created by nomadic aboriginal people moving across the land. Still others are engineered by government agencies who use surveyors, construction teams and dynamite, if needed.

Here in the desert, however, we have a few trails that are the work of one man: Harold Schey. Mr. Schey was a retired gentleman with a shovel and a pick who built some trails in Palm Desert and Palm Springs. I only met him a couple of times but he seemed like a no-nonsense sort of man. His trails are certainly built that way.

One of his trails is inaccessible due to the scar on the mountains known as the Bighorn Golf Club. The other goes down from the top of Murray Peak toward Eagle Canyon in Palm Springs. The trail I hiked on today is in Palm Desert near Cat Canyon.

To get there, take Hwy 74 south from Hwy 111 and turn right on Cahuilla Way. Then go right on Cat Canyon, left on Cholla, right on Paisano. You'll see a gravel road on the left going up the wash, turn here. It is probably best to have a 4WD the further you go up the wash but that's up to you. Follow the wash to the fence at the end. There are plenty of No Trespassing signs but hikers are OK. Just stay away from the homes on the left. You don't want to get shot.

The Schey Trail will be on the left up just a little bit.

The trail quickly merges with the Hopalong Cassidy Trail and passes numerous flowers. This is a good area to go right now because the trail is on the north side of the slope and gets less direct sun.

The Schey Trail takes off to the right from the main trail and gains elevation quickly.

The trail is not maintained so in some places it is a bit rough. Bump and Grind regulars would not like it although they'd get twice the workout in half the time.

It runs into the Art Smith Trail allowing for a nice loop by going down the Art Smith Trail and then connecting with the Hopalong Cassidy Trail.

Desert beauty is everywhere along these trails.

So are several palm oases.

Palms require water so you know there is an underground spring here.

The Art Smith goes directly through this oasis.

You make a left on the Hopalong Cassidy Trail and follow it back to our intersection with the Schey and then on to Cat Canyon.

There's one section where the original Schey Trail parallels the new Hopalong Cassidy. Even though Mr. Schey's trail is now somewhat eroded you can still respect the love he put into building his trails and his place as a true desert trailblazer.


libhotmama said...

I'm glad I clicked on the ads. Where else could you get a photo of Wayne in his tux and waders fly-fishing?

Hal Summers said...

Who's Wayne?

Eric said...

I am very interested in Mr. Schey's trails, having seen a tattered sign that bears his name.

Intersection with Clara Burgess (just north of Murray in Eagle Canyon).

Thanks for the info!

Ginger said...

Harold Schey was my uncle. I remember hearing from family that he liked to walk in the hills, but I had no idea he had actually made trails. Thank you for your kind words about him. He was certainly a character and is missed by all!